Monday, April 21, 2014

How To Battle Writers Block

Even the best writers fight writers block from time to time and even if it hasn't happened yet, chances are at some point it will. There's different reasons why it might happen.  Sometimes its possible to write a character into a situation where its hard to write them out of, or maybe something else is clogging your mind causing endless distractions.  Often on of the main issues is simply too many words and ideas, there's no clear path to get everything down in a way that accurately represents ones active imagination.  The latter is the preferred problem because its easiest to correct but every writer needs to find the best way to combat stubborn writers block.  Sometimes the easiest solutions are the most beneficial but it can be different for everyone.  Here is a list of the top way that work for me and other writers I know.  

  1. Take a walk: Sometimes a break is the best way to clear your head and get the ideas flowing in a way you can make sense of.  Forcing yourself to keep writing and staying at a blank word document isn't productive or likely to end with usable content so taking a step back may seem counterproductive but can really help.  This solution wont work well with a fast approaching deadline but for those with time a nice walk can help, or any other activity that you can let your mind wander.  Listen to music, take a warm bath or sit outside with a coffee on a nice Spring day.  Forget about where you left off on your project and soon enough new ideas might just come without even trying.  The subconscious mind has a way to be working on problems even when the conscious one is preoccupied. 
  1. Try a Writing Exercise: For those who don't think they will be able to get back to writing after taking a break.  A writing exercise might help get the juices flowing back to normal again.  There's a lot of different ones to pick from, one of my personal favorites include writing a situation with the characters from your novel that isn't related to the story.  Try writing what they are doing a year after the story is over or what they were like as children.  Get to know their personalities more and figure out how they interact with one another.  It gets the mind thinking and it helps the novel. 
  1. Read/ Research: When the words aren't coming and everything else fails there's nothing left to do but pick up a book and see what other authors have done.  In order to write, reading is important and learning what works and what doesn't can help.  Maybe something will inspire a new idea and if nothing else, why not pass up an opportunity to bury your nose in a book.  Nothing bad will come of it. 
  1. Have a Secondary Project: Personally this doesn't work well for me but I know other novelists that swear by it and often have many novels on the go at once.  It's a good tactic for the chronic multi-tasker but maybe not for someone who needs to focus on a single thing at a time.  Try having a novel on the go besides from the one your working on so if a tie comes when you get tired of working on the same think or a bad bought of writers block inevitably happens its easy just to switch projects for a while to keep fresh. 
Sometimes deadlines pop up out of nowhere and your mind simply doesn't want to cooperate though ultimately most of the best writers block cures are to simply stop thinking about what is causing the problem for a while.  It's easy to get stressed out and that is the biggest factor in why writers block happens.  There will be times when stepping away just isn't an option and there is no instant cure, but such is the life of a writer.  There will be deadlines that are broken and less than quality words submitted but everyone's first draft is far from perfect.       

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